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Mental health can affect divorce legal issues

To an outsider in Louisiana, the divorce legal process can seem quite simple: spouses who no longer get along divide their property and time with their children and go their separate ways. But what happens when the law prevents an individual from even saying that he or she wants to end a marriage? That is the case in one Kentucky case that is drawing a lot of attention. As this case highlights, the law can complicate matters significantly in an effort to ensure fairness and the protection of certain rights.

There, an 88-year-old man wanted to divorce his wife over irreconcilable differences. However, as of 2008, the man's wife is his acting guardian as, at that time, he was deemed mentally incompetent. Since the divorce's filing in 2013, the man's wife has claimed that he needs her to prevent him from squandering his finances on scams, and thus she will not consent to the divorce. The man, on the other hand, claims that he is a prisoner in his own house and that he is not mentally incompetent. As the law currently stands in Kentucky, a mentally incompetent individual cannot seek a dissolution of their marriage. The Kentucky Supreme Court will be hearing the case.

Mental health concerns can play a big role in family law matters. They can, of course, raise doubts as to whether or not divorce is even an option, but it might also affect spousal support and child custody. An individual who became mentally impaired during the course of marriage and is now unable to work may be deemed to need spousal support. If a mental health issue affects a parent's ability to care for his or her child, then modification of a child custody arrangement may be warranted.

These can be very sensitive issues requiring a deft hand and a strong handle of legal concepts as they relate to family law. Those who think they may need help with divorce legal issues may want to speak to their attorney.

Source: WLWT News 5, "Mental incompetence at the heart of Kentucky divorce case," Aug. 19, 2016

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